Boilerplate: The Foundation of Market Contracts

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Omri Ben-Shahar
Cambridge University Press, May 21, 2007 - Law
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Boilerplate, the fine print of standard contracts, is more prevalent than ever in commercial trade and in electronic commerce. But what is in it, beyond legal technicalities? Why is it so hard to read and why is it often so one-sided? Who writes it, who reads it, and what effect does it have? The studies in this volume question whether boilerplate is true contract. Does it resemble a statute? Is it a species of property? Should we think of it as a feature of the product we buy? Does competition improve boilerplate? Looking at the empirical reality in which various boilerplates operate, leading private law experts reveal subtle and previously unrecognized ways in which boilerplate clauses encourage information flow, but also reduce it; how new boilerplate terms are produced, and how innovation in boilerplate is stifled; how negotiation happens in the shadow of boilerplate, and how it is subdued. They offer a new explanation as to why boilerplate is often so one-sided. With emphasis on empiricism and economic thinking, this volume provides a more nuanced understanding of the 'DNA' of market contracts, the boilerplate terms.
 

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Contents

ONE
3
two
12
three
29
four
45
Table 42 Prevalence of dispute resolution provisions
52
1
54
five
66
part two
81
eight
106
nine
120
ten
131
part three
143
eleven
145
twelve
163
thirteen
176
fourteen
189

six
83
seven
95
fifteen
200

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About the author (2007)

Omri Ben-Shahar joined the Michigan Law School faculty in 1999. He founded and has been named director of the Olin Center for Law and Economics at Michigan. He previously taught as a professor of law and economics at Tel-Aviv University and was a research fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute. Dr Ben-Shahar teaches courses in Contracts, Electronic Commerce, Intellectual Property, and Economic Analysis of Law. He holds a B.A. in economics and LL.B. from Hebrew University, and an LL.M., S.J.D., and Ph.D. in economics from Harvard. He is the Chair Elect of the Contracts Section of the American Association of Law Schools, and a board member of the American Law and Economics Association. Dr. Ben-Shahar writes in the fields of contract law and products liability. His work has been published in many journals, including the Yale Law Journal, University of Chicago Law Review, University of Pennsylvania Law Review, Journal of Law and the American Law and Economics Review.

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